Here’s the Grant McGregor team’s rundown of some of the business apps we think are going to be transforming the way your organisation works in 2024.
Microsoft launched Copilot in March 2023 but it hasn’t been until the start of this year that small business users have been able to get their hands on the software.
There are actually several different Microsoft Copilots, of which Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 is just one. We think it is probably going to be the Copilot that will transform more people’s everyday working lives.
Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 is embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams. In Outlook, it can help you by summarising long email threads and quickly drafting suggested replies. In Microsoft Teams you can use it to summarise key discussion points, who said what, where people are aligned and where they disagree, creating meeting notes and suggesting action items.
And the next generation AI in Power Platform will change how you develop low-code solutions – getting you to a working app in minutes. Across your daily work, it will help you streamline your administrative tasks and save you tonnes of time.
Adobe Firefly is designed to empower customers of all experience levels to generate high quality images and stunning text effects. Adobe launched the beta of its first Firefly model focused on commercial use in March 2023. It is Adobe’s answer to the rival AI-powered image generation solutions of Midjourney, Stable Diffusion and DALL-E2.
One important aspect to the solution that Adobe has been keen to highlight is the training of its models. Many AI models have been trained on images scraped from the Internet with no regard for copyright. Firefly was trained only on open-source images, content that is no longer in copyright and content from Adobe Stock – making it a more “ethical” solution, says Adobe.
Firefly goes beyond Adobe’s existing AI tools that it has already integrated into Photoshop and some of its other apps to help with some of the more complicated or repetitive tasks associated with digital art, video and photo editing. With Firefly, you simply type in words to describe the image you wish to create and the model will generate images based on your input.
GPT-4 was launched mid-2023 so it may be that you have already been experimenting with this tool and the images and text it can create for you. Using text prompts, you can ask the model to create short and long-form written content.
The output might not sound entirely human, but it is an amazing tool for research and finding information. If you need to find answers or create copy for informational or promotional purposes, it can provide a really useful starting point or outline for your work.
It’s great to experiment with different prompts to see the different answers GPT-4 comes back with. For UK companies, you’ll need to include the instruction “use British English” with any writing prompt. One of our favourite prompts is “condense that text”. This way, when it comes back with lengthy answers, you can prompt the tool to edit down its own work.
It’s likely that 2024 will see GPT-4 tech being integrated into a whole host of other apps and solutions, so learning how to use prompts effectively is a great skill to build and nurture.
Microsoft positions Bing as your AI-powered Copilot for the web. While there have been examples of Bing getting things wrong – notably election information in one study – it is a really accessible tool if you want to create images which you can use on your own blog posts or social platforms.
The Bing Image Creator is powered by DALL-E. It is built into Bing Chat and can also be used via the Bing Image Creator icon on your Microsoft Edge sidebar. Given that it’s built on DALL-E, you don’t get the ethical assurances you get from Adobe but it is an easy to access option if you want to get started with creating AI-powered images.
As we’ve already noted, Microsoft has launched a number of different Copilots to assist with different product sets within its offering. The GitHub Copilot is the Copilot developed to aid software developers.
Its use has been proven to increase developer productivity and accelerate the pace of software development – with as much as 55 percent faster coding. Perhaps one of the most useful ways to benefit from the tool is to use Copilot to search your own codebase. It can help with hunting down a bug or reusing code when designing a new feature.
You can also use it to get new AI-based coding suggestions. The GitHub Copilot turns natural language prompts into coding suggestions based on the project's context and style conventions. You’ll probably want to do some tweaking and editing, but it offers a great starting point. It saves time against hunting down possible code suggestions in online forums and ensures your recycled code is more in line with your existing codebase and house style. You can also use the tool to suggest code completions in real time as you type.
It’s clear from these examples, that our working lives are going to transform dramatically over the coming years. These tools have the potential to free us from routine tasks and streamline the way we work. How we use them and what we do with the rest of our time will determine how successful they really are.
If you’d like more information or advice on how your organisation can benefit from these or any other technology, please reach out to the Grant McGregor team.
Call us: 0808 164 4142
Message us: https://www.grantmcgregor.co.uk/contact-us
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